Maybe it’s a friend in your life that you only hear from when they need something. Or a supervisor that pushes you to stay that extra hour. Perhaps it’s even a controlling partner that insists you buy them that new makeup kit they’ve been eyeing. No matter the form takes, feeling used by someone else can be seen in all aspects of our lives. While we here at Psych2Go understand that it’s hurtful, we just want to remind you Psych2Goers of your worth! It’s important to remember that we’re not responsible for the actions of others, but we are in full control of how we react to them. Have you ever had a sneaking suspicion that someone might be trying to get the upper hand? Here are 8 signs that someone might be using you.
1. They’re only there if they need something.
Humans are social animals, and occasionally reaching out for help isn’t likely done so with malicious intent. But if you have a friend, classmate, or colleague that only reaches out to you when they need help completing an assignment or for other favors, you might be being used by them. The flip-side to this sign is that when they’re doing well in life and are in the position to help others, they don’t typically reciprocate that same support back.
2. They don’t follow through on promises.
You know the type. These are the individuals who are more “talk” and less “do”. It can be frustrating to rely on someone only to have them not follow through with a promise. These patterns of activity are very damaging to relationships, and the constant undermining of trust might reveal if they see you as someone they can use.
3. They make you watch what you say.
People who are being used by others might find it hard to express themselves freely around them. In particular, saying “no” to their requests becomes increasingly difficult as time moves forward. New York City’s life coach Julie Melillo noted that this is due to the invisible power-play positions that we hold in such relationships. “Users send messages that denying their request might spell doom for you”, Melillo writes, “and this is how they manipulate you.” Using fear as a tool to control is absolutely not healthy in any relationship. If you feel like you can’t openly speak your mind around someone, they may have been using you.
4. They always assume that you’re paying.
Money’s impact on relationships is truly a spectrum. It can drive lovers apart by revealing more about them, while a sudden windfall might bring a couple’s goals to fruition. However, if your partner is always expecting you to cover expenses small and large, they might be taking advantage of you financially.
5. They’re only nice when they need to be.
How someone acts when they are and aren’t around you can say a lot about their personality. Don’t get us wrong: it’s totally normal to notice differences in how we act in different settings surrounded by different groups of people. But if you can think of someone in your life who only shoots you a smile when they need something, yet are radio static otherwise, it might be a sign that you might be being used by them.
6. Your loved ones are worried.
Friends and family tend to see past the blinders we have in our relationships. They notice subtleties that we don’t pick up on, or dismiss altogether. If a family member or close friend has pointed out toxic or controlling behavior in your relationship with someone else, then it might be worth delving into further. People that love you always have your best interests at heart, and their suggestions to how you can modify a relationship may just be the input you need moving forward.
7. They never say thank you.
This may be a hard thing to endure when it happens. Constantly going out of your way for another with little gratitude expressed in return is hurtful, and you might be able to put the times they did on your fingers. Not receiving gratitude after altruistic acts are not only damaging to relationships but may even lead us to think that maybe our own actions weren’t such a big deal after all– that they were “expected”. This can lead us further down the road of manipulation.
8. You begin to dislike them.
We are all familiar with what it’s like to dislike another individual. This is completely normal, as it helps us mold our lives into one that is healthy and ideal for us. But if you begin to feel resentment when you think of that certain someone, it’s likely not for no reason. Dr. Kim Chronister, Psy.D, says that resentment is often accompanied in one-sided relationships. Relationships are a two-way street, and similar care should be given to stop resentment from manifesting.
Nobody deserves to feel used or taken advantage of. If you identify with one or more of the signs above, we strongly recommend you share your concerns with someone you trust. This can be a parent, close friend, teacher, or anyone else you feel comfortable and safe with. If you or a loved one may suspect abuse in your relationship, please do not hesitate to consult the resources below. We want to remind our community that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and love. No matter where you are in your relationships, we truly hope that you can continue moving forward to happier, healthier places.
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“Are You Being Used in Your Relationship? Ask These 5 Questions to Find Out.” Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, 27 Mar. 2018, www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/love-sex/relationships/a10368869/am-i-being-used/.
Schumacker, Lauren. “9 Signs Someone Is Using You in a Relationship.” Insider, Insider, 1 Nov. 2018, www.insider.com/signs-someone-is-using-you-2018-10.
Steber, Carolyn. “11 Signs You’re Being Used In A Relationship & How To Fix The Problem.” Bustle, Bustle, 5 May 2016, www.bustle.com/articles/158884-11-signs-youre-being-used-in-a-relationship-how-to-fix-the-problem.
Uniacke, Juliana. “14 Clear Signs Someone Is Using You: How To Tell For Sure.” A Conscious Rethink, 20 July 2020, www.aconsciousrethink.com/12715/signs-you-are-being-used/.
Domestic Abuse and Violence Resources:
National Domestic Hotline
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services